Stranded at SeaWorld vs Whale Watching

squid, whale, back of jesse eisenberg's head“You know Epcot Center?” a friend asked me yesterday.

“I’m familiar in a general way,” I replied, “but I’ve never been.”

He gave me the same look, an eye-cocktail of surprise, pity, and incomprehension, that I instinctively give people who tell me they haven’t seen When Harry Met Sally or Chinatown. My parents did some mainstream-ish American things: they took my brothers and me to the Southwest, where we gaped at the Grand Canyon, and to New England, where we attempted to go “whale watching” and instead spent an interminable afternoon supine on a wooden bench, moaning as waves lifted and dropped us, lifted and dropped us, and I lost all faith in both whales and God.

They did not, however, take us to Disney, any Disney, or to SeaWorld, where presumably I could see proof that whales, at least, exist, and where, this weekend, visitors got more excitement than they bargained for when the power went out on “the Sky Tower,” stranding 40+ tourists 200+ feet in the air for 4+ hours. To compensate those tourists for their high-altitude suffering, SeaWorld is offering free admission to the park for their next visit, which is kind of hilarious, like the whale watching company saying to me, “So sorry you spent the whole time puking in a nightmare that was equal parts Dante and Melville. Here’s a gift certificate for another go!”

But part of me is kind of jealous of those SeaWorld guests. At least they got a real experience for their $50+, and a story to tell. Have you been “whale watching” – which costs about $30 today – and/or to SeaWorld? Which was more worth the money? Which would you rather subject your children to?

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7 Comments / Post A Comment

Caitlin with a C (#3,578)

I have never been to Seaworld and now will never be able to without thinking of Blackfish the whole time, but when I was in college I went to Tadoussac to go whale-watching. There were lots of whales and it was pretty — I loved it (and I think it cost a lot less than $50), but I also grew up on/around boats and so was not furiously ill. I also enjoyed the giggling from everyone who wasn’t a native French speaker whenever someone saw a seal (they would loudly announce the animals and which side of the boat to spot them on). Would totally bring kids along to do that. Seaworld… not so much.

Lily Rowan (#70)

I had a great whale watching experience thanks to a groupon, beautiful weather, and WHALES!

Good times.

But also that reminds me of the time Greyhound stranded me for hours, and then the “compensation” was a free trip. Yeah, fuck you, buddy — I’m not getting on your bus ever again! (I did get on their bus again.)

chevyvan (#2,956)

Watch Blackfish and take your chances on whale watching.

My sister was on the “poop cruise” last year. She was given a voucher for another cruise. Her experience was uncomfortable and inconvenient but not the living hell it was made out to be on the news. Still, I don’t think she plans on using it. It’s such a racket – they know most of the passengers won’t use them.

Tripleoxer (#5,676)

I’ve been whale watching a few times! We went out of Provincetown last summer and saw a pod of dolphins, including a BABY dolphin who kept leaping out of the water (also, never knew there were dolphins in New England before that), and we saw a bunch of humpbacks. And a large fish whose name I forget. It was awesome! Have never been and most likely will never go to Seaworld, because Blackfish made me sad.

ceereelyo (#3,552)

Along with the other posters – Blackfish – ugh, I was destroyed after watching that. Have gone whale watching up off the Cape (Cod) many times in my youth, and that was fun.

garli (#4,150)

I went to Sea World 10000 times as a child since I grew up in San Diego, but now I really don’t feel good about going anymore. Even before we found out that they’re not as fuzzy as advertised as soon as the trainers stopped getting in the water with the Orcas it was not as good of a show.

Whale watching I’d never pay to do because I’m spoiled as hell and I’m a sympathetic barfer.

I spent weeks in the middle of the pacific on a research boat and saw 100′s of whales. Also where I live whales come in super close to shore, like you can see them from the bar at happy hour from a restaurant at the beach.

What I would totally pay to do again (and risk being around a bunch of pukers) is to go swimming with Whale Sharks. SO CRAZY. Worth every penny.

Whale watching, for sure. I’ve only been once but I would do it again. I will never go to Sea World, for cruelty to animals and disregard for OSHA standards.

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